Being from Southern California, Russell Westbrook grew up a Los Angeles Lakers fan and now sees his dream of playing for his home team coming to fruition.
The Lakers held a press conference to officially introduce Westbrook and it was a surreal moment to see the All-Star guard holding up his No. 0 jersey. Westbrook brings competitive fire and edge that should help carry Los Angeles throughout the regular season and playoffs and he sounds excited about playing in his city.
Aside from coming home, the 32-year-old now gets a chance to wear the same jersey his friend and mentor Kobe Bryant wore. Westbrook admitted that his relationship with Bryant is still on his mind even after the trade was completed.
“It hasn’t left my head,” Westbrook said. “Things that we’ve talked about, me and him. Just the potential of me being able to be a Laker and understanding what that entails. It’s just crazy to think about and that will be with me every time I put that Laker jersey on. That’s all I can say about that.”
Westbrook also opened up about how he and Bryant grew close during their time together. “I think that was the initial thing that kind of brought us together is being able to compete and not being able to take nights off.
“But when we began to have a better relationship together off the floor as brothers and talking about other things outside of basketball and things that we’ve been able to connect on with this game, to me that was the most important thing I’ve been able to cherish with Kobe that I will continue to cherish and live on.”
NBA players around the league have referenced Bryant as a source of inspiration, but Westbrook and the Lakers icon are unique when it comes to their approach to the game. Lakers fans have embraced players who embody the “Mamba Mentality” Bryant was known for, so Westbrook should be well-received when he finally takes the floor for L.A.
Pelinka tells story about Bryant and Westbrook
During Westbrook’s press conference, Rob Pelinka retold a story where Bryant acknowledged Westbrook’s competitiveness and energy out on the court.
“Just an anecdote to that, I remember, still have his voice in my head, the year that Russell broke the record that no one ever thought would be broken in terms of averaging a triple-double and putting himself in the category of players like the Big O, there were a small handful of players around the NBA that Kobe really felt like embodied that sort of Mamba Mentality and I remember throughout that year, just his praise for Russell’s approach and him talking about that competitive edge that is rare in sports across all sports,” Pelinka said. “I can just hear him say ‘he gets it,’ like he’s got it.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!